The greatest natural high that life could offer was coursing through me as I floated above and beyond, my tiny newborn tucked safely in my arms. Ohhhh, she was beautiful. I peered at my tiny, perfect baby and in my heightened awareness I felt the wellspring of love bubble inside me as I slipped into her embrace.
Motherhood was not a given for me; as a young bride I recall not wanting to become pregnant because I had things to see and places to be. After one such trip during which I spent considerable time with two young children I realized that yes, now I was ready for motherhood. However, we rode a roller coaster of hope, elation and despair for three years.
I was told you might be here,
And I walked in the park to see if I could see you.
You would have been right on time in August.
The grass was very green then,
And the fountain trickled in the light.
The trees there are so tall and strong,
And the birds sang.
I almost thought I saw you,
And I loved you very much.
As it was, you weren’t even there
And had not yet ever been.
Finally, the doctor said, “You’re pregnant”; I was ecstatic. I wanted a girl, a daughter … I wanted a daughter so badly I was embarrassed to say so. I knew most important was a healthy baby … but I did so want a daughter. Science was not yet able to predetermine baby’s sex and Alyson remained a surprise, a most enchanting surprise – the first of three very special births.
Her due date, determined early in the pregnancy, was January 26. In December the doctor told me that baby would not be born until February. And at January’s appointment he told me that baby wouldn’t enter this world until March. One week later I awoke in the early morning hours with a modicum of discomfort, so mild I remained unsuspecting. When my husband awoke at 6 a.m. it was he who told me it was time to go to the hospital. As if mere suggestion was enough, muscular contractions intensified as my body began to ready itself for birth. My legs felt weak, I had trouble standing, and more difficulty walking. I no longer had time to dress. My husband threw a jacket over my shoulders, tugged some socks on my feet and supported me to the car.
Fifty minutes of driving lay between me and the hospital – me in the back seat, he driving through red lights. On arrival there was no time for any preparation and I was shunted directly into the delivery room and Alyson was born within minutes, in the early morning hours of January 26, 1977. The doctor may say she was five to six weeks premature; I say she was born right on time. To announce her birth, I called my own mother from a nurses’ station on my way out of the delivery room and told her I had just lost 5 lbs 13 oz. Mum later said she didn’t understand what I meant and thought I was having a nervous breakdown.
Months later I chatted with some of the staff nurses about my delivery and one said: “Ohhh, you’re the one …” I thought she referred to the very quick delivery … but later, in retrospect, she was more likely remembering me in my outsized, floor length, bright red, Mrs. Claus-style flannel nightgown, with my husband’s ragged bush jacket with the stuffing coming out draped around my shoulders, men’s work socks hastily pulled half way on, flopping off the end of my feet, no shoes … to say nothing of my mad-woman hair, and my six-foot frame with an outsized belly … speeding the hallways on a gurney, only to be unceremoniously thrust onto the sterile delivery table. I maintain that giving birth leaves a woman with no dignity whatsoever.